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ture; but he was the last man you would expect to win a splendid woman in her prime --though these last men often do it. He was tall and thin and sallow; he stooped; he coughed; he was absurdly absent; he could not remember a name, or a face, or the day of the month, or the day of the week. But Barbara Restormel, a superb and vigorous woman, saw in this man something which she saw not in the young peers and squires who threw themselves at her pretty (if rather ample) feet; and she married him three years after she had refused Squire Silchester of Silchester; and the Squire, whose bark was far worse than his bite, took the generous revenge of present-ing him to the family living of Silchestereight hundred a year, and a glebe of about five hundred acres.
Here the rector lived comfortably and pleasantly, dining full oft with the man who had menaced him with death, drinking his port and using his library. Here the rectoress
was also prosperous and happy, the very soul of the village, the unfailing guide and friend of all who needed guidance and friendship. She had not married her parson for nothing. His awkward form concealed a noble nature, strangely capable of influencing others with which it came in contact. He influenced Squire Silchester, 'a man reported invincibly obstinate. He tamed the unkempt rebellious schoolchildren, with whom the schoolmaster had done no good, though he decimated the Squire's birch plantations. He kept in genial awe the frequenters of wild solitary taverns, where poaching and smuggling were the most trivial amusements ever designed. He was a magnetic man.
Such men are of immense use, when they go aright. The Rev. David Dallas seldom went very
wrong. About two years after marriage, Mrs. Dallas had a daughter, who was also named Barbara. The Squire was intensely fond of this infant iota. Tacitly he had vowed to himself that never would he marry; but he felt a halfpaternal love for this child of a dream-wife, and he lavished on her luxuries which made the rector and Mrs. Dallas remonstrate. Remonstrance was vain. For little Barbara nothing was too good. She had a pony at five—a sturdy little Exmoor, with a loin like the seat of an arm-chair.
It clearly gave the Squire such pleasure to be kind to her, that her father and mother gave up their objections, and he was allowed to do much as he liked.
Barbara Dallas grew into a lovely girl. Like her mother in form, though slenderer, she was converse in character. Barbara the elder was daring—daring enough to marry a poor and elderly curate because she loved him. Barbara the younger was shy, timid, afraid indeed of all men except her father and the Squire. The Squire, to say truth, was her playmate, though old enough to be her father; he taught her to ride to hounds; he got her a light gun with which to shoot pheasants; he
introduced her to old-fangled literature in his quaint old library; he taught and teazed and petted her as if she had been a favourite daughter.
The rector had been about twenty years married, when a severe disease of the chest, doubtless latent before, so weakened him that he was ordered to go abroad. He and his wife and daughter started for Madeira. The Squire would gladly have gone too, but the lord of a great estate and the master of hounds is not always his own lord and master. He would hardly have allowed these claims to operate, had he known that he should never again see the rector or his wife, and that he should not meet Barbara for almost ten years.
Yet this, was the result. An elder brother of Mrs. Dallas's, the head of the Restormel family, had been living in various parts of the Continent for half a century. Accident brought them together. He was kind; he wanted amusement; he thought his niece a lovely
child, approaching the end of her teens; he made them deviate from their appointed tack, and took them to many other places. The rector by this time was growing too weak to have a voice in the matter; his wife was easily persuaded by her brother that his plans were the best-that movement and distraction were more likely to do the rector good than monotonous residence in a single island; and our timid Barbara, if she had thought there was any mistake, would scarce have dared say
Hence the rector went from city to city, the choicest in Europe, luxuriously travelling, faring luxuriously; and he quite enjoyed the time; and in his eighth decade it was a delight to him to see cities and waters known to him in dreams—to compare with his classic vision the neoteric reality of Rome and Athens.
People said it shortened his life.
“ It lengthened his life," said Polwhele Restormel. " He lived more in those last few years than he had ever lived before."